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Penn Vet to Host Fourth Annual Microbiome Symposium Featuring Science Journalist Ed Yong

By John Donges Published: Oct 12, 2017

Ed Yong[October 12, 2017; Philadelphia, PA] – Microbes are ubiquitous and vital to humans: they sculpt our organs, defend us from disease, break down our food, educate our immune systems, guide our behavior, bombard our genomes with their genes, and grant us incredible abilities. Much of the prevailing discussion around the microbiome focuses its implications for human health, yet when we look at the animal kingdom through a microbial lens, even the most familiar parts of our lives take on a striking new air.

Acclaimed science journalist Ed Yong will discuss the hidden worlds of microbes, how they influence our lives, and how we might reshape them to improve our health during the fourth annual Microbiome Symposium, presented by Penn Vet’s Center for Host-Microbial Interactions, the Perelman School of Medicine, and the PennCHOP Microbiome Program.

The two-day symposium will begin with Yong’s talk, “I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life,” on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, from 6-7:30pm at Penn Vet’s Hill Pavilion (380 S. University Ave., Philadelphia). Admission to this event is FREE and open to the public, but registration is recommended at

Yong reports for The Atlantic and has contributed to national and international magazines including National Geographic, the New Yorker, Wired, Nature, New Scientist, and Scientific American, among others. Yong also is the author of the New York Times best-selling book, I Contain Multitudes.

Yong has won a variety of awards, including the Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award for biomedical reporting in 2016, the Byron H. Waksman Award for Excellence in the Public Communication of Life Sciences in 2016, and the National Academies Keck Science Communication Award in 2010 for his old blog Not Exactly Rocket Science. He regularly does talks and radio interviews; his TED talk on mind-controlling parasites has been watched by over 1.5 million people. 

Presentations for the scientific community will take place on Thursday, November 9, 2017, at the Biomedical Research Building (421 Curie Blvd., Philadelphia). Registration is available here.

Speakers include:

  • Grace Aldrovandi, MD/CM, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Laurie Comstock, PhD, Associate Microbiologist, Brigham and Women's Hospital; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
  • Gabriel Nunez, MD, Co-Director, Immunology & Host Response Program; Department of Pathology, University of Michigan
  • Manuela Raffatellu, MD, Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego
  • Cynthia Sears, MD, Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University

This event is part of the University of Pennsylvania’s ongoing efforts in support of the One Health Initiative, which is dedicated to improving the lives of all species through the integration of human medicine, veterinary medicine, and environmental science.

About the Center for Host-Microbial Interactions

Penn Vet’s Center for Host-Microbial Interactions is designed to facilitate collaborative projects that leverage genomics to study the intersection of microbes and disease. In doing so, researchers gain insight into how bacteria, parasites, viruses, and other organisms interact with their animal and human hosts in ways that either maintain health or lead to disease. Each year, the Center invites researchers to submit proposals for funding. Additionally, the Center provides ongoing support and training for Penn Vet faculty and their labs to carry out analyses of the complex datasets generated by genomic approaches. For more information about the Center, click here.  

About Penn Medicine

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center – which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report – Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital – the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

About Penn Vet

Ranked among the top ten veterinary schools worldwide, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is a global leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the first veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling more than 34,600 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles more than 6,200 patient visits a year, while our Field Services have gone out on more than 5,500 farm service calls, treating some 18,700 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.

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John Donges
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